Ethereal Hummus – recipe

Hummus

Hummus (Photo credit: diettogo1)

Ethereal hummus?  Really?  I make my own and it is excellent.  However, a couple of weeks ago, I went to a new restaurant in town and had their hummus.  Oh my oh my.  It tasted great but what blew me away was the texture.  It was so silky smooth and not as grainy as most hummuses (hummi?) I have had or made.  It was….ethereal.  I asked the waitress how it was made.  She was clueless.  She asked the chef in the back.  He said no way was he giving it up.  So, me being me and me being an excellent food sleuth, I determined to reverse engineer his hummus.  Chick peas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, good virgin olive oil….basic.  But the method was what lifted this hummus from ho-hummus to Yum-Yummus.

I used canned chickpeas which is perfectly acceptable and in my various experiments, there was no difference in the long way of cooking your own as opposed to dumping out of the can.  I did however discover there is an expensive organic brand that is bland and tends toward mush.  Regular store brand did just fine.

I mashed the chickpeas and sieved them and mixed with ingredients.  Still grainy and dense.  I put in a blender and then strained the pureed beans and mixed.  Nope.  Not that either.

I put the beans and some extra liquid in my food processor and then mixed.  Smoother, but my tongue said, Girlfriend, you still have work to do.  I continued.  I ate enough hummus in a couple of weeks to mortar a brick wall around our property.  Made my family crazy as well.

Reliving the texture in my mind, I had an epiphany – Eureka!  Emulsion!  Like mayonnaise – mixing together elements that normally do not mix such as an oil and a liquid to make a creamy smooth something else:  Emulsion.  I learned it as a pharmacy tech and I learned it in culinary school.  I was about to make hummus history.

So—-below are the instructions for method.  Add more or less seasonings to your taste, but do the emulsion thing.  After a couple of tries, I hit on the right method.  I dug in with a spoon to test the texture and taste.  Oh be still my heart!  Ethereal Hummus was now available at my house.

RECIPE 

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

¼ c. water

6 tsp. tahini, well stirred

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, good quality

1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.

1 garlic clove, finely minced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground cumin

Pinch cayenne

1 Tbs minced fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

Additional olive oil for garnish.

  1. Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl.  Whisk together tahini and olive oil in another small bowl.
  2. Process chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground.  Scrape down bowl.  Then with machine running, add lemon juice/water in a steady stream through feed tube.  Scrape down bowl again and continue to process for a minute.  With machine running, add oil/tahini mixture in a slow steady stream through feed tube; continue to process tun hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds.
  3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl.  Sprinkle minced herbs over surface and cover with plastic wrap.  Let stand for flavors to meld at least 30 minutes.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and serve.

Quick Pickles – Quickles

I have been promising (and I know you all have just been waiting in deep anticipation) a treatise on quick pickles – quickles I call them. Some factoids: Cucumbers have been around forever and go back as far as Mesopotamia 2030 BC. Quickles are not marinated vegetables. They are brined or salted the same as long process (slowckles) are. The word pickle comes from the Dutch pekel which means salt or brine.

Quickles are a great way to use up some excess summer veggies, brighten up winter veggies, add a quick bit of zing to a dull meal, be a unique appetizer, or in some cases, add an authentic bit to an ethnic meal. Seasonings and vegetables themselves can give a local or ethnic flair. Add daikon to cucumbers and onion. Or add some curry to cucumber, onion, celery, red radish. Crushed mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and sugar make the ubiquitous onion and cucumber mixture quick bread and butter pickles (recipe in a previous Keep It Simple Saturday) post.

Quickles give much satisfaction with little effort.  They are great with sandwiches, sides for meat, rice….on their own.

Equipment is as simple or exotic as you choose: a colander, plate, weight or a specialized pickle press. I bought a dandy one at a local Japanese food store for $4.99. Ingredients are the same way: salt (uniodized or sea salt), spices, herbs, veggies. The process may take a few hours but you don’t have to babysit and can do other things. Once made, they will last for several weeks in the refrigerator. I do hope you all will experiment with quickles. They’ve been a part of my life since I was born. On a hot summer day, cucumber quickles from the fridge cooled and refreshed a hot little girl. Other kids could have a Koolaid freezer pop – I wanted quickles!! They are a regular feature now in my bento.

QUICKLE BASICS

Cucumbers (English, Kirby, Persian, Japanese) Peeled (if waxed) and very thinly sliced
Onion red or white, thinly sliced
Carrot thinly sliced
Radish red or daikon, thinly sliced
Cabbage – thinly shredded

Seasoning: bay leaf, mustard seed, turmeric, srirachi pepper, split Thai pepper, cilantro, garlic, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, fresh cayenne, fresh jalapeno pepper, sesame seeds, toasted seaweed bits, ginger
Vinegar: cider, white, rice
Extra vegetables: turnip, celery, napa cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower

One Method: The above is my go to veggies for quickles. Add or subtract. It’s up to you to determine how many you want to make. I usually use a standard size cuke, a small or medium onion, a rib of celery, a carrot, several red radishes, about ½ c. sliced daikon, about ½ cup shredded cabbage. In a colander, toss well with several tablespoons of uniodized salt. Place sauce or plate, depending on size of colander and add weight to the plate. A half gallon empty clean milk jug or gallon jug of water works well. Place in sink or on another plate to catch liquid from vegetables. Vegetables will end up being limp but still crispy due to this process. Use a mandolin or sharp knife to thinly slice vegetables. Add seasonings of choice. ALWAYS use non-reactive pots, pans, bowls for vinegar/acid based foods.

Obviously, the vinegar and seasonings will determine the “flavor” of the pickle. I like a Japanese quickle to use with everything.

Recipe – Japanese Sunomono (sweet)

english cucumber

½ small onion

1 cup water

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp kosher salt

2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp minced ginger

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cucumber. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Wash the cucumber and slice it very thin using a mandoline. Add it to the bowl of liquid, give it a good stir, and then take care to submerge all the cucumber slices. Refrigerate for at least half an hour (but no more than a couple hours) before eating. Drain before serving. Garnish with toasted seaweed and sesame seeds. To add another layer of flavor to this simple pickle, add about ¼ – ½ tsp. dashi soup granules and/or seeded and slivered chili pepper (not much for this amount of cucumber).
Japanese Sour Pickles
1/2 cucumber
1/6 carrots
7 oz. water
1 1/3 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 oz. (dried bonito)
5 oz. daikon radish
2 2/3 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
Sliced ginger
Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and soy sauce. Add bonito and sliced ginger and stir slowly until sugar is dissolved. Cut cucumber, daikon and carrot into strips. Put vegetables in a jar and pour the mixture over them. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of days for flavors to blend. Keeps about 10 days.

Thai Quickles a friend gave me this recipe and she uses pounds for measurement
2 ¼ rice vinegar
½ pound onion sliced
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 pound cucumbers, sliced
4 green chilies sliced
2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. sugar
Put the vinegar in a non-reactive pan and heat. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Let cool. Put vegetables in a bowl and cover with vinegar mixture. Let sit for one half hour. Keeps in fridge for several days.

Quick Indian Carrot Pickle
5 medium carrots
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard oil or olive oil
sliced green chili, sliced the long way

Peel the carrots and thinly slice them about 2 inches long (should be about two cups). Wrap the sliced carrots in a dry towel, ensuring the carrots don’t have any excess water. Mix all the ingredients together with the carrots and put in a glass jar. Keep the jar in the sun for a day. Pickle is ready the next day. Pickle can be refrigerated for about two weeks.

Quick Bread and Butter Pickle
(recipe posted in Keep it Simple Saturday Recipe post)

quick bread and butter pickles

照り焼き Teriyaki

Teriyaki is a way of Japanese cooking. Teriyaki is a combination of two Japanese words: “teri” and “yaki”; teri means luster, and yaki means grill or broil. This recipe is for oven baked teriyaki wings. You can of course use chicken thighs, legs, chunks, pork, beef, tofu…..cook on an inside grill or yakitori grill, or outside on a gas or charcoal grill. That is up to you. Be careful as the sugar and mirin content can easily cause food to burn.

To make a teriyaki dish, ingredients are broiled, roasted, or grilled after being marinated in or basted by teriyaki sauce. It’s sauce that brings the shiny look (teri) to the ingredients. You can buy teriyaki sauce in a bottle at the grocery store, but authentic teriyaki sauce is very easy to make. To make teriyaki sauce, basically soy sauce, mirin, and sugar are used. Other ingredients can be added. It is possible to substitute mirin with sake and sugar BUT the key ingredient in teriyaki sauce is mirin. Mirin adds luster to ingredients. Teriyaki sauce can be used for glazing and marinating meats and vegetables.

The recipes for the wings and the sauce were given to me by my “authentic Japanese” partner of years back. We enjoyed entertaining and feeding our friends. These wings, chunks of nice fatty beef, deep fried tofu (see post), umeboshi and other quick pickles along with some of my Southern American specialties made us extremely popular. This is good party appetizer/sports watching/entrée food.

Between good food, good conversation and good music, it truly was the best of South meets East!!! どうぞめしあがれ (douzo meshiagare – eat well) or, as my granddaddy used to say, Eat ‘til your little belly drags, Y’all!

desired amount of wings (I usually allow 6 full wings per person)
teriyaki sauce
sesame seeds
scallion, thinly sliced

Wash the chicken and cut at joints into two pieces. Frugal Hint: I save the tips in the freezer to make broth. Wash again and pat dry with a paper towel. Put into a non-reactive bowl and marinate the wings in the refrigerator with a generous amount of the teriyaki sauce for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. Mix well making sure wings are covered. Cover with plastic wrap.

This is oven method: Preheat oven to 375. Either use a broiling pan with racks or, lay cooling racks over baking pan. Spread the wings in a single layer and evenly spoon sauce over the wings. Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 30 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven, remove the foil and place back into oven for about 10 – 20 minutes until skin becomes crispy. Move the wings to a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds and very thinly sliced scallion.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

2/3 c. mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1 c. good soy sauce (I use low sodium soy sauce)
4 ½ tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/3 c. white granulated sugar
4 – 7 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbs. grated fresh ginger
Dash of black pepper

Mix ingredients well and slowly heat until bubbly, stirring. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes until thickened and flavors are blended. This will keep in covered container in refrigerator for several weeks. Makes about 1 1/2 c. sauce.

teriyaki chicken wings

Snow Day Cooking – Recipes

It snowed last night – great gouts of clustered snow flakes rapidly covering the ground and everything else it       would stick to.  A wet snow, in some areas it will be gone by late afternoon and in some protected areas, sometime tomorrow.  The snow covers our lawn in a smooth sheet until it gets to the woods and then it decorates the leaves, bare tree branches, and sides of downed trees.  The line of azaleas in front of our house and the ones that separate the woods from our lawn, blossom with huge clusters of pure white snow.

Still…today is one of those days I am going to pretend the roads are impassable and we are snowed in.  That means – a whole day of cooking!  This morning started off with my husband begging for sausage, eggs, and silver dollar pancakes.  Usually our breakfast is what we grab in passing – yogurt or oatmeal for me and Danish for him.  The pancakes are from a standard recipe of flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, and milk – standard, fluffy and satisfying.  I’ve been making these since I was five and had to stand on a chair by the stove to reach the pan.  The sausage is homemade – lean bits of pork left over from the killing and butchering and then ground with a bit of suet and spiced with salt, black pepper, some sugar, red pepper flakes, and lots of sage – in the south, in farm co-op stores, you can buy bags of sausage seasoning for batches from 2 – 100 pounds.  Beats bought sausage all to pieces and you know what is in it.

My husband’s uncle has a massive farm – every year they kill hogs and butcher and sell the meat or give away.  His sausage is made from trimmed pieces of tenderloin and hams and seasoned with co-op seasoning – hot or mild.   This same sausage will be used later in the day when I make sausage and cheese balls – some for munching on now and the rest to be pulled out of the freezer and cooked for the rest of the football season and on to March Madness basketball (Go Duke!).

Snow day cooking can be done on a cold rainy day or just a day you want to hide from everything and everyone and be in your own kitchen world.  On the counter great northern beans are soaking.  I am going to make a big pot of white bean (navy or great northern) and ham (leftover from Christmas and portioned out and put in the freezer) with cornbread.  This will be for dinner tonight.  I am also going to make quickles – quick pickles with a bread and butter taste to go with the beans to add a bit of sparkles.  I am in the process of writing a most learned and riveting two part article about quickles…snow day came up though and took precedence.    Sliced cucumbers and onions are on the kitchen table in a colander over a dish with a smaller saucer on top with a large heavy can of tomatoes on top to help press out excess liquid.  Bread and butter style quickles are also on the menu for tonight.

Sticks of unsalted butter are on also  the counter softening.  On the  for dessert are Mexican wedding cookies.  The pecans in them came from Georgia.  Every Thanksgiving, I go to Charlotte Courthouse where Mr. Claxton comes up from his home in Thomasville, GA and brings a huge truck loaded with this season shelled or unshelled pecans.  I buy both – enough to take me through to next Thanksgiving.  For about two miles on either direction of him along 360, you’ll see hand-lettered signs:  Pecans Ahead!  The Pecan Man  – 1 mi. Awa!!!  Your Close!!!  (big arrow) Right there – PECANS!!!!   I’ve done this for a long time but I always eagerly look for the first sign. The excitement builds.   Only in the South, folks.

Recipes are below.   As usual, I do not take pictures of ingredients and step-by-steps as most folks seem to do on their cooking blogs.  I’ve said it before:  you all are grownups and know how to cook.  A chopped carrot is a chopped carrot, a pound of great northern beans are great northern beans, confectioners sugar is……you all get my drift.  Enjoy my day with me!  I’ll glady share recipes but you can’t have my happy shoes.  Y’all stay for or come by for supper.  The cornbread is in the oven and the golden crust is liberally smeared with butter.  Sweet tea, the table wine of the South, will be your beverage to complement our meal.  Plenty of napkins are on hand to catch the powdered sugar from the cookies.

 

 WHITE BEAN AND HAM SOUP 

  • 1 lb of white beans -navy or Great Northern, picked over and washed
  • 2 quarts of water HOT water – soak beans in this for about three hours and drain
  • Ham chunks, ham bone, ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrots
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a pot or bowl large enough to hold the beans with water, soak and drain. some folks soak the beans in cold water for 8 hours.  others bring the beans in water to a boil and soak the beans for about 2 hours. Your choice.

Meanwhile, put the ham hocks, ham chunks, or ham bone and cover with 2 quarts of water.  For frugality, I am using leftover frozen Christmas ham and the hambone.  I am not using a huge amount of ham, maybe about a 3/4 pound.  I will simmer the ham bone and add the bay and sautéed veggies, bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour.  When I add the beans, I will add the ham chunks, bits, shreds…whatever. Cook for another couple of hours or so, until the beans are tender.  Cook longer to thicken.  Check and stir mixture in pot to ensure no sticking.   Add more water if necessary.

Serve with hot cornbread and butter or other bread of your choice.  When serving, put  a good sprinkle of chopped onion, parsley, Crystal or Franks hot sauce on top – any or all is good.  Let the individual season their beans or not.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

FOR VEGETARIAN/VEGAN VERSION:  omit ham (duh).  Saute veggies along with several cloves of garlic.  You may want to add more veggies to the sauté mixture to flavor and hearten up the taste and texture.  I use regular vegetable oil to sauté veggies but you can use fancy olive oils if you choose.

ANTI-FART (haha) TIP:  When cooking dried beans, take a nice stringy large rib of celery and cut in half.  Add to the cooking beans at the beginning.  At the end of cooking, remove the two pieces of celery.  The cellulose in the celery absorb the sulfur dioxide from the cooking liquid and help cut down/prevent stomach gas.  Be careful to remove the fart-absorbing celery ribs from the soup.

MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES (or SNOWBALL COOKIES)

1 cup  (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup  powdered sugar, divided
2 tsp.  vanilla
2 cups  flour – all purpose
1 cup  finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually add flour and pecans, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended.  Shape into 1 inch balls (I use a 1 inch cookie scoop).   Place, 1-1/2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets.  I use cooking parchment.

Bake 14 to 16 min. or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.  Roll warm cookies in about 1 cup of powdered sugar until evenly coated; place on wire racks to cool.  The sugar will coat the cookies and give a happy white coating guaranteed to “snow” on your black sweater and stick to your fingers.   Cool completely.  Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.  They really don’t last long because they are such a good, short cookie – not too sweet but rich and yummy with cold milk, hot tea or coffee. makes about 28 balls of yumminess.

QUICK BREAD AND BUTTER STYLE PICKLES

1    pound pickling cucumbers , sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch  rounds OR equivalent in standard or English cucumber. Peel, cut cukes in            half  and scoop out seeds if necessary

1     medium onion, halved and sliced thin

1   tablespoon kosher or non-iodized salt

1    cup cider vinegar

1/2  cup sugar

1/2   teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1/4    teaspoon celery seeds

1/4    teaspoon corriander seeds

1/8    teaspoon ground tumeric

Toss cucumbers, onion, and salt in colander set over bowl.  Let stand 1 hour.  hour.  Discard any liquid collected in the bowl. Rinse and press out excess water and put in large non-reactive bowl.  Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, corriander seeds and turmeric to boil in large saucepan.  Pour over cucumbers and onion onion, and press to submerge in liquid.  Let cool.  Put into smaller glass container or quart jar and allow to chill at least two hours before serving.   Pickles can be refrigerated in a clean jar or covered container for 2 weeks.

snowball cookies            quick bread and butter pickles         white bean and ham soup with cornbread

Aside

Chicken with Garlic Sauce – Myazaki Prefecture

This is one of those recipes that someone is going to say isn’t “authentic”, doesn’t sound Japanese, whatever.  I was given this recipe by a Japanese engineer who is here in America working with a nuclear power company.  This is from the Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu Island.  He assures me this is delicious any time of year and makes the house smell wonderful.  He had called to ask me “huge favor” – how to make American Fruit “Cottler”?  I told him I would be most honored to provide him the recipe and that it would be good with all kinds of fruit.  To show his gratitude, with a great deal of courtesy (and I could sense some homesickness), he shared one of his favorite home style dishes in return. They often add a pickled cabbage salad and rice for this meal.  I think it sounds a lot like Southern barbecued chicken and coleslaw.  Truly an East Meets South kind of recipe. 🙂

 Chicken with Garlic Onion Sauce

5 boneless chicken thigh fillets (with or without skin) I use split chicken wings – about 10, split into drummette and long section, tips removed
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
 
Sauce
½ sweet onion, grated
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. cooking sake
4 Tbsp. Mirin
3 Tbsp. soy sauce 

Instructions:

Grate or very finely mince onion in a medium bowl and add all the Sauce ingredients in the bowl.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel.  If you use the chicken with skin, prick the skin with a fork.   Salt and pepper chicken and put in a separate bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes along with the sliced garlic.   In a non-stick frying pan, heat oil on medium heat, add just the chicken.  If the chicken has skin, cook the skin side first. Do not turn over the chicken until it’s nicely browned. After you turn over the chicken, lower the heat to  low. Adding in the garlic, cover half of the pan with the lid and cook for about 7 – 9 minutes.  When the chicken is cooked, add the Sauce. Cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Use a spoon to coat the chicken with sauce. Serve the chicken on a plate and pour the sauce over. Serve immediately.  I sprinkle with sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion.

Pickled Cabbage Salad
½-1 cabbage, julienned or shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1/4  cup cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, chopped, green and white portions
 
Dressing
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for dressing and mix well. Add all vegetables in the bowl and refrigerate at least for 1 hour.

 

 


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